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Fake Ashi Honyaki Sold

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khashy

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I have come across a knife that was sold as an Ashi Honyaki on one of the usual places for knife and stone sales in Japan, which I believe is in fact not an Ashi.

Let me start by saying that I have no horses in this race, the sale has absolutely nothing with me and I do not know who has bought the knife.

Furthermore I cannot 'prove' this, only present the rationale as to why I believe it not to be an Ashi.

Lastly, if the person that has bought this knife is reading this, I am sorry - I do not mean to offend you, however I do feel that given the premiums that an Ashi honyakis demand, the knife community deserves to know if they are potentially being conned.

Here are the photos of the knife which was sold as an Ashi honyaki for a vast sum of money:

FakeAshi4.jpg

FakeAshi1.jpg

FakeAshi2.jpg

FakeAshi3.jpg

FakeAshi5.jpg

FakeAshi6.jpg


Why I believe this is a not an Ashi Honyaki:

I have had a fascination/obsession with Ashi-san's work for a very long time and my OCD nature has meant that I have spent an astonishingly unhealthy amount of time researching and looking for Ashi honyakis. In the process I have been fortunate enough to get a hold of a few - thankfully this was before the magnificence of Ashi honyakis were widely discovered, otherwise I would not have been able to afford them.

I do realize that this does not make me an 'expert' by any means, however the point I am trying to make is that I have seen a significant number of Ashi honyakis in person or in great details via the grace of other Ashi honyaki owners who have been kind enough to share the details of prized possesions with me.

I think many people will agree that an Ashi honyaki is a piece of art brought to life through the medium of deferentially hardened steel. It is a distinctive blade and the unique style of hamon, profile and polish is like no other blade. Therefore one cannot easily mistake an Ashi honyaki for something else or something else for an Ashi honyaki. This is why Ashi commands such eyewatering prices these days, they are very difficult to come by and those who have them do not tend to let go - when you see one in person, you are ensnared in its infinite beauty...

Please take the time to do a search for Ashi honyaki blades and look at the photos. Compare the hamon, the polish and the profile across several images of different knives. Then compare those to this thing. It should be obvious enough to anyone.

Anyway, poetics aside, this blade looked off to me as soon as I saw it advertised as an Ashi honyaki and in order to make sure I am not going mad, I shared it with a number of extremely knowledgeable people in our community, including some of our absolute oracles to ask their opinions of it.

While a number of them said that they cannot tell one way or another with absolute certainty, not a single person said that they felt this blade is a real Ashi honyaki - not one. I have nothing but respect for everyone I asked about this and would have taken any of their words blindly had a single one of them said that they think this is a legit Ashi.

So, what do we have here? The blade is an Ittosai Kotetsu branded blade. Ittosai Kotetsu are a very well respected brand that work with many craftsmen. They have had Ashi honyakis for sure, however Ashi hamono are not the only suppliers of honyaki gyutos to Ittosai. There are examples of Ittosai branded honyaki gyutos that are not Ashis and were not sold as such. I do not for one second believe that Ittosai would have sold this blade as an Ashi. The con is when the seller on the secondary market put this blade up for sale and went to great lengths, weaving stories of how he has confirmed it with X, Y and Z and his contact and his contact's wholesaler and he assures us that it is definitely an Ashi and that the buyer should trust him.

By the way, this same seller sold another knife for exactly the same price previously. This time it was not sold as an Ashi however the photos of the box posted were the exact same photos as this listing. The photo with the sticker on the box is the exact same photo on both sales.

So maybe calling this blade a 'fake' is unfair - Ittosai sold a honyaki blade as they have been doing. They never called it an Ashi and so this blade isn't a fake Ashi per se, it is 'some' honyaki blade. Then along comes one of the well known knife and stone flippers in Japan and posts it explicitly as an Ashi honyaki and prices it accordingly. Now I do acknowledge that this seller might have unknowingly bought it from someone else as an Ashi and has just flipped it as what he bought it as, and you can go back in this unknown chain as much as you like, but at some point in this chain someone conned someone else and that was subsequently passed down the chain until this very last sale.

For all we know this blade may/will show up for sale again as an Ashi honyaki, so please be mindful of all the malpractice that is going on in the knife world right now before dropping vast amounts of money on these blades.

The truth is that certain individuals in Japan have caught onto our thirst for certain blades. Don't get me wrong I am more than happy to put my hands up and join the massive queues for our most beloved makers - they have become hot property for a reason: they are amazing!

This has resulted in some individuals with access to sought after blades, milking the situations and in doing so - to put it lightly - be less than truthful (knowingly or unknowingly). We have known about fake Shigs for some time now, we see Katos pop up on auction left right and center. These are now being advertised as Blue1 and we know Kato-san does not use Blue1, only Blue2. Then there are the vast swathes of custom orders placed by a lot of us (myself included) for such and such maker and such and such sharpener and in the end after months/years of waiting, we end up with 'some' knife that has not been anywhere near those craftsmen; At least in these instances we are not paying through the nose - at some point I will write more about this with proof of why these blades are lies, but that is for another time.

Then there is this - an overt attempt to con an unsuspecting knife enthusiast into buying their very own 'Ashi' unicorn.

This sale is unfortunately done, someone has paid for it and that cannot be undone. The point of this post was to ask everyone to be mindful of the dirty practices that are going on.

In terms of an Ashi honyaki; If you cannot tell it's an Ashi honyaki from 400 miles away while juggling hippos giving birth to giant size venus fly traps on fire, stop! ask questions, ask the community, ask somebody and verify as much as you can that what you are getting is in fact what is advertised.

Again, these are my own views, I'm happy to (and actually hope to) be proven wrong and I sincerely hope that this knife and more like it do not get mis-sold for eyewatering prices as something they are not.
 

khashy

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Two things I'd like to touch on .

One: your humble statement that you have a "few" and two: the fact that you openly admitted to respecting me.

Both are laughable 😂
Ha! Of course I respect you, rightly so.

You are also well aware of the people I’ve asked about this knife - like I said if any single one of them, yourself included of course, had said this is a real Ashi, I’d have happily accepted it.
 

ynot1985

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100% not an ashi..

what price point are we talking about for this one?

im still waiting for your ashi collection photo 😂😂😂
 

khashy

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100% not an ashi..

what price point are we talking about for this one?

im still waiting for your ashi collection photo 😂😂😂
Have you seen an Ashi honyaki sold for less than 2k USD these days? I haven’t. So think higher than that.
 

Corradobrit1

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Why not send these pics and the provenance to Hiroshi Ashi. He is very happy to communicate as I've contacted him in the past. There are very few official retailers in Japan so it should be possible to get some definitive answers. And each retailer has their specific specs.
For me I would say this is NOT an Ashi Honyaki. The hamon is too low and it doesn't have the finesse of the real thing (I have 2 so should be able to give a reasonable opinion). What is the size of the blade? Who was the seller? Only a couple guys reliably sell these special knives so even though I doubt some of their claims regarding Kato #2 vs Kato #3 and B#1 steel vs B#2, when they sell an Ashi its the real deal.

Unfortunately the astronomic prices nowadays only encourages some devious activity. I hope I'm wrong, but if real its not Hiroshi's finest work
 

khashy

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Why not send these pics and the provenance to Hiroshi Ashi. He is very happy to communicate as I've contacted him in the past. There are very few official retailers in Japan so it should be possible to get some definitive answers. And each retailer has their specific specs.
For me I would say this is NOT an Ashi Honyaki. The hamon is too low and it doesn't have the finesse of the real thing (I have 2 so should be able to give a reasonable opinion). What is the size of the blade? Who was the seller? Only a couple guys reliably sell these special knives so even though I doubt some of their claims regarding Kato #2 vs Kato #3 and B#1 steel vs B#2, when they sell an Ashi its the real deal.

Unfortunately the astronomic prices nowadays only encourages some devious activity. I hope I'm wrong, but if real its not Hiroshi's finest work
Ashi hamono will not want to get involved in this. I imagine if they came out and said it’s not an Ashi, it could be seen as a reflection on Ittosai and they would understandably not want to risk rudeness towards their trading partners.

Agree with your assessment of the blade btw.
 
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Luftmensch

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By the way, this same seller sold another knife for exactly the same price previously. This time it was not sold as an Ashi however the photos of the box posted were the exact same photos as this listing. The photo with the sticker on the box is the exact same photo on both sales.
I think the first sale was withdrawn. If memory serves me correctly it was originally listed at 250,000 yen and then relisted a day later at 275,000. On the original page there were zero bids. Mind you... for the 275,000 listing there are zero bids! Go figure... So I don't think another knife was sold. In fact, possibly none were?

This is in NO way a defence of the seller; but I don't recognise them as a flipper? Which is not to say they are definitely not a flipper!


The handle install is awful. Looks amateurish.
Not the best. The waves in the hamon are a bit fat to my eye. I like a tighter grouping.
 

khashy

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I think the first sale was withdrawn. If memory serves me correctly it was originally listed at 250,000 yen and then relisted a day later at 275,000. On the original page there were zero bids. Mind you... for the 275,000 listing there are zero bids! Go figure... So I don't think another knife was sold. In fact, possibly none were?

This is in NO way a defence of the seller; but I don't recognise them as a flipper? Which is not to say they are definitely not a flipper!




Not the best. The waves in the hamon are a bit fat to my eye. I like a tighter grouping.
This knife was not on auction. It was definitely sold.
 

Luftmensch

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This knife was not on auction. It was definitely sold.
Did you say what platform the sale was on? I saw it on Yahoo... If there were multiple platforms that would be interesting information...
 

Luftmensch

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Ahh... I can see it was listed on Mercari for 220,000 yen. Perhaps that was the platform and sale price?
 

danemonji

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I knew it was fake advertisement from the moment it was posted. It's not really a fake Ashi, it's most likely a Shiraki being sold as an Ashi.
Note that I think that some of the auctions are being staged. They have people bidding to raise the price.
 
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Luftmensch

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Note that I think that some of the auctions are being staged.
Curious!

I agree... it is definitely not a fake Ashi. Somewhere in between the sale at Ittosai and the most recent transaction it has been misrepresented. It is not worth the prices that were asked - but it is not bottom of the barrel craftsmanship either!
 

khashy

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I knew it was fake advertisement from the moment it was posted. It's not really a fake Ashi, it's most likely a Shiraki being sold as an Ashi.
Note that I think that some of the auctions are being staged. They have people bidding to raise the price.
There is definitely a great deal of tinkering going on.
There are staged auctions, then there are auctions being cancelled at the last minute because the price wasn’t high enough, then there is the case that the same auction item being privately offered to people while the auction is still live.

Profiteering has definitely gotten the better of a number of sellers in Japan
 

Luftmensch

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Cool... thanks for that.

Note that I think that some of the auctions are being staged.
There are staged auctions, then there are auctions being cancelled at the last minute because the price wasn’t high enough, then there is the case that the same auction item being privately offered to people while the auction is still live.
Interesting... Well the seller was trying their luck over at Yahoo as well. Identical pictures. At least it didn't go for the highest listed price!!


Nice public service announcement. At any of those prices, it is a huge amount of money to gamble. I hope nobody here was duped. It would have been preferable if nobody at all had been duped!!
 

camochili

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Thank you for the insight and opinions.
For me as a newbie who is also interested in getting his hands on a high end knife, it scares me away, i have to admit. Luckily, as a collector guy with more experience in other fields, i know about such practices. Anyway, it gives me the feeling to take things slowly and wait for the right moment. Furthermore accept and ask for advise from more experienced enthusiasts.
 

Corradobrit1

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Were all these photos on the same listing? The last pic is not the same knife as the earlier ones. There's some extra kanji on the latter.
 

NO ChoP!

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Isn't two grand cheap for an Ashi today? Heck, a quick google search and I saw them going for $5500. I would say, that is on the buyer. Too good to be true, means it is untrue.
 

camochili

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Isn't two grand cheap for an Ashi today? Heck, a quick google search and I saw them going for $5500. I would say, that is on the buyer. Too good to be true, means it is untrue.
that's what i use to say...
 

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